Furtive Fertility Docs Sold Human Eggs?

Two Israeli gynecologists are under house arrest after allegedly stealing eggs from patients during fertility operations, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger.

According to police, the two gynecologists gave women fertility treatments to stimulate the ovaries, and then extracted the extra eggs and sold them for profit. This was generally done without the knowledge of the patient.

The two doctors were senior gynecologists in the Tel Aviv area: Dr. Zion Ben-Rafael is head of gynecology at the Rabin Medical Center, and Dr. Jackie Ashkenazi is the head of the IVF (invitro fertilization) division of Sharon Hospital. They have been placed under house arrest for 10 days.

The case first came to light in Israeli newspaper reports several months ago, after several women suffered serious side effects from the fertility procedures. Ten other gynecologists are also under investigation.

“We’ve known about this for a long time,” said Dr. Carmel Shalev, Director of Health Ethics at Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv. “But what is really shattering here is two factors: a.) that women who were asked to donate eggs did not understand exactly what was going on, and the other thing is that very senior gynecologists in Israel are involved...this is very shocking to the entire system.”

Dr. Shalev said the stimulation of the ovaries in the fertility procedures can be life-threatening in some cases. Therefore the two doctors were charged with breach of trust and endangering lives.